White Dresses

White Dresses

A Memoir of Love and Secrets, Mothers and Daughters

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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In this riveting, poignant memoir of three generations of women and the white dresses that adorned them--television producer Mary Pflum Peterson recounts a journey through loss and redemption, and her battle to rescue her mother, a former nun, from compulsive hoarding.

As a successful television journalist at Good Morning America, Mary Pflum is known as a polished and highly organized producer. It's a persona at odds with her tortured childhood, where she watched her emotionally vulnerable mother fill their house with teetering piles of assorted "treasures." But one thing has always united mother and daughter--their love of white dresses. From the dress worn by Mary's mother when she became a nun and married Jesus, to the wedding gown she donned years later, to the special nightshirts she gifted Mary after the birth of her children, to graduation dresses and christening gowns, these white dresses embodied hope and new beginnings.

After her mother's sudden death in 2010, Mary digs deep to understand the events that led to Anne's unraveling. At twenty-one, Anne entered a convent, committed to a life of prayer and helping others. But lengthy periods of enforced fasting, isolation from her beloved students, and constant humiliation eventually drove her to flee the convent almost a decade later. Hoping to find new purpose as a wife and mother, Anne instead married an abusive, closeted gay man--their eventual divorce another sign of her failure.

Anne retreats into chaos. By the time Mary is ten, their house is cluttered with broken appliances and stacks of unopened mail. Anne promises but fails to clean up for Mary's high school graduation party, where Mary is being honored as her school's valedictorian, causing her perfectionist daughter's fear and shame to grow in tandem with the heaps upon heaps of junk. In spite of everything, their bond endures. Through the white dresses, pivotal events in their lives are celebrated, even as Mary tries in vain to save Anne from herself.

Unflinchingly honest, insightful, and compelling, White Dresses is a beautiful, powerful story--and a reminder of the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters.

Publisher: New York, NY : William Morrow, [2015]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780062386977
Branch Call Number: 306.8743 PET
Characteristics: xv, 336 pages.


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ArapahoeKati Apr 02, 2018

I loved this because it is about so much more than white dresses. It’s about family and pain and trauma and trying again and doing better than your parents. I cried at the end.

Mar 08, 2017

A loving memoir of family milestones in a dysfunctional family. This could've been mean-spirited and self-centered (like another book I reviewed) but instead, the author is loving and gracious, understanding that most people have issues and are doing the best they can, especially our parents. She is loving and forgiving, while dealing with her own pain and still cherishing the positive memories. Well done, well done.


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ArapahoeKati Apr 02, 2018

“If I can accept who you are, then why can’t you?”

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